Ruby Bridges was the first African American child to integrate an all-white public elementary school in the South. Ruby Bridges was six when she became the first African American child to integrate a white Southern elementary school. On November 14, 1960, she was escorted to class by her mother and U.S. marshals due to violent mobs.
When Bridges was in kindergarten, she was one of many African American students in New Orleans who were chosen to take a test determining whether or not she could attend a white school. It is said the test was written to be especially difficult so that students would have a hard time passing. The idea was that if all the African American children failed the test, New Orleans schools might be able to stay segregated for a while longer.
Bridges lived a mere five blocks from an all-white school, but she attended kindergarten several miles away, at an all-black segregated school.
William Frantz Elementary School building in 2010
Bridges’ father was averse to his daughter taking the test, believing that if she passed and was allowed to go to the white school, there would be trouble. However, her mother, Lucille, pressed the issue, believing that Bridges would get a better education at a white school. She was eventually able to convince Bridges’ father to let her take the test
Later, Bridges’ parents were informed by officials from the NAACP that she was one of only six African American students to pass the test. Bridges would be the only African American student to attend the William Frantz School, near her home, and the first black child to attend an all-white elementary school in the South.